I love the digital age. It’s the only reason you and I can have a connection at this moment. And for that I am so grateful. I also love paper. Hear me out for a second. People have many senses and touch is one of the big ones. The sense of touch allows us to experience the world in a visceral way. It’s what babies can’t get enough of, as they touch everything and then proceed to taste it too!
Do you still get a daily newspaper? A weekly or monthly one? How about a magazine?
There is something that is precious about actually holding on to the information that we are consuming. The fact that paper sits around our house, creates an object permanence that on some level is a reminder of what we read every time we see it. It’s why we spend time to make a photo book. We have digital frames that scroll through hundreds of photos randomly; definitely fun! I have a few in my home. A photo book though, serves a different purpose, as it sits on a table and beckons family members to casually peruse and together relive shared memories.
And if we have children, newspapers and magazines are a physical statement that we are interested in what is happening in the world. When our only interface is a screen, which is used for absolutely everything, no child will truly know what it is that we are doing- even if we are looking at CNN, Fox and every other media to glean out the news for ourselves. A child will only assume that we are scrolling social media, playing a game as they do or maybe doing “work”- whatever that is. Our children will never know that we are reading the news. And even when we tell them, will we tell them everyday? repeatedly? for the hours that a paper or magazine would be sitting around as that constant reminder that the world matters?
This paper thing… it follows us everywhere. Have you noticed that doctors offices have few if any pamphlets on tables and counters anymore? I get it, we all have our heads in our phones. But if just for that moment we don’t have our heads in our phones… I used to pick up lots of random information from what was laying around in office spaces of all types. What about you? Schools still have actual artwork that kids make displayed- not digital versions of their work. Something about physically witnessing the labor of our hand is different than just a photo of the actual art.
By the way folks, I don’t get the daily paper anymore. I feel bad for the environmental toll. But I do still get a few bi-monthly papers and monthly magazines and I am grateful for the sacrifice those trees make. Paper and physical objects have an important role to play in our lives.
We can’t live our lives with our heads fully in the digital cloud without losing our sense of permanence and what matters to us. We are ultimately physical beings who need that physical touch.
What do you think? Want to do an experiment with me? Grab a paper, take the time to peruse it and leave it on the table for a minute. And, next to that, leave your laptop. Let me know how it goes.
Make you think? Check out In-Laws Enough Said